Personal Habits Of The Food Police
Anyone who lives in New York or follows the national press on public health issues is probably aware that Mayor Bloomberg has been pushing a nutritional agenda whose primary method of implementation is to force New Yorkers to eat better whether they like it or not. Recent measures have included banning the use of trans fats in restaurants and requiring chains to prominently post calorie counts for all of their foods. His latest hobby horse has been pushing restaurants and manufacturers to reduce sodium levels in their foods. Well, the New York Times today ran an article discussing Mayor Bloomberg’s own eating habits, which apparently include copiously salting pizza. I can’t quite decide if this is hypocrisy, or if it just means that Bloomberg’s sense that New Yorkers needs the food police to watch them is based in his own need to have the food police watch him.
I am all about people being free to make their own decisions on this subject. Bloomberg is apparently not. Sure, I recognize that the kinds of changes Bloomberg is advocating are in fact good for public health, and that most of us could probably stand to at least consider them. It’s the price and the method that I have a problem with. I don’t need anyone to treat me like a six year old who can’t be trusted to make her own food choices. I realize that sometimes the American public as a whole makes bad decisions and that sometimes the government needs to step in to address some of those issues, but any rule that treats us all as too stupid to EAT unsupervised rubs me the wrong way. This is complicated stuff. No food is inherently evil in moderation — healthy eating is all about balance, and health is not the only reason that we eat. Eating for pleasure — cooking as an art form — enjoying the family community around the dinner table — these are all worthwhile things. Everyone should be entitled to make their own decisions about how to balance health with their other personal values and interests. Are we really okay with the government making those decisions for us, and if so, where is it going to stop?
Apparently Bloomberg wants to make what he would undoubtedly have to consider “bad” decisions about what he eats for his own pleasure, but has trouble with the idea that everyone should be permitted to make their own choices too.